- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 3, 2002

Osama or Rudy?
"Although I won $50 in small bets that Time wouldn't have the guts to pick Osama bin Laden as its 'Person of the Year,' it was small consolation. After floating, for newsstand sales and rank publicity, the possibility that the hated Saudi would fill the Dec. 31 cover, Time's editors embraced celebrity journalism and opted for the feel-good choice of Rudy Giuliani.
"The weekly's signature end-of-the-year capper ought to be scrapped. There's absolutely no doubt that bin Laden was the newsmaker of 2001; had the attacks of September 11 not happened, Giuliani might have warranted a brief, and probably derisive, mention in the 'Person of the Year' edition as a lame duck who was bitterly handing over Gracie Mansion to Mark Green.
"This is no knock on Rudy. I don't like the man, but his round-the-clock reaction to the indescribable attacks on his city was surely his finest hour. My beef is with the wimpy Time 'Person of the Year' committee.
"Time, which abandoned any pretense of being a serious news-gathering organization at least a decade ago, has now disgraced itself so completely that it's almost impossible to conceive just how it could regain credibility."
Russ Smith, writing on "Skip the 50 Smackers," Dec. 27 in New York Press at www.nypress.com

Amoral movie?
"I am awed by Ridley Scott's formal achievements (color palette, composition, staging) in 'Black Hawk Down,' and I agree that his focus on one particular mission is purposeful.
"But when hundreds of malevolent black people are killed on screen to the audience's whoops and cheers, a moviemaker is obligated to provide some larger context, both political and human. And it wouldn't matter if every frame in Scott's film were literally true it's still the job of an artist to provide some context. The subjective experience isn't enough. What the picture does offer is brief, simpleminded, and crudely manipulative, and nothing Scott shows of the carnage (apart from injuries to Americans) suggests that he has any moral doubts about war. (And you don't have to be a peacenik to have doubts about war.)
"His amorality isn't surprising: The deaths in 'Gladiator' are just spectacle to him, and a comparison of Scott's camera in 'Hannibal' to Jonathan Demme's in 'Silence of the Lambs' suggests that the latter is concerned with human beings while the former regards his characters as receptacles of blood, bone, and intestine to be lighted in pleasing and colorful ways."
David Edelstein, in Friday's Slate Movie Club at www.slate.com

Teeming shores
"The United States is undergoing a Latinization, and there is no turning back. Parts of this country are unrecognizable.
"Every day, 1,000 undocumented immigrants cross the border from Mexico illegally. Every day. Nothing is going to stop the flow of immigrants not higher fences or new laws or a new border patrol budget or the army or immigrant agreements. Rather than a legal problem or a problem of national security, the immigration problem stems from the laws of supply and demand. As long as an immigrant working in the United States earns in one hour what would take him one or two days to earn in Mexico, El Salvador and Nicaragua, undocumented immigration will continue.
"Immigrants leave their countries because of push factors lack of work, low levels of education, political repression and they come to the United States because of pull factors here, they are needed. Immigrants in the United States account for 34 percent of domestic employees, 23 percent of farmers and fishermen, 21 percent of assembly line workers, and 18 percent of those in the service industry. In other words, the houses in which Americans live, the food they eat, and the services they receive depend in large part on the work of immigrants, both legal and undocumented."
Jorge Ramos in his new book "The Other Face of America"

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